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State v. Kelley

Supreme Court of Connecticut

September 5, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
TYRONE LAWRENCE KELLEY

          Argued March 29, 2017

          Robert E. Byron, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rocco A. Chiarenza, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, former state's attorney, Maxine V. Wilensky, senior assistant state's attorney, and Lisamaria Proscino, former special deputy assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa, Robinson and D'Auria, Js. [*]

         Syllabus

         Pursuant to statute (§ 53a-31 [b]), ‘‘[t]he issuance of a warrant'' for a probation violation pursuant to the statute(§ 53a-32) governing such violations ‘‘shall interrupt the period of the sentence until a final determination as to the violation has been made by the court.''

         The defendant, who previously had been convicted of a narcotics offense and sentenced to imprisonment followed by a period of probation, appealed from the judgment of the trial court, which found him in violation of his probation on the basis of his subsequent arrest for various crimes. The defendant's five year period of probation commenced after his release from incarceration in 2008, and one of the conditions of probation required that he not violate the criminal law of any state. In October, 2009, the defendant was arrested and charged with various drug offenses, and an arrest warrant was issued shortly thereafter in December, 2009, for his alleged violation of probation. In 2011, while the probation violation charge was pending, the defendant again was arrested for his alleged commission of a robbery. The probation violation charge was tried with the robbery charge in 2014, more than four years after his arrest for violating probation and about eight months after his five year term of probation was originally scheduled to expire. After finding that the defendant had violated the conditions of his probation, the trial court rendered judgment revoking his probation and sentencing him to additional incarceration. On appeal to the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed, inter alia, that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to revoke his probation because it did not resolve the probation violation charge until after his original probation term was scheduled to expire. The Appellate Court concluded that the issuance of the arrest warrant for the defendant's violation of probation interrupted the running of the defendant's probation term pursuant to § 53a-31 (b) until the trial court resolved the probation violation charge and that the trial court thus had jurisdiction to revoke the defendant's probation. The defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Held that the Appellate Court correctly determined that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction when it revoked the defendant's probation: in accordance with the plain meaning of the text of § 53a-31 (b), the issuance of the warrant for the defendant's arrest for his probation violation in 2009 triggered the interruption of the running of his probation term until the trial court resolved the probation violation charge in 2014, and, accordingly, the defendant's five year probation term did not expire in 2013, when it was originally scheduled to expire, and the trial court did not lose jurisdiction to conduct a hearing and to revoke the defendant's probation in 2014; moreover, the defendant could not prevail on his claim that the trial court's failure to comply with the language in § 53a-32 (c) providing that, unless good cause is shown, a probation violation charge shall be disposed of or scheduled for a hearing not later than 120 days after the defendant is arraigned on such a charge meant that the defendant's probation term was not interrupted by the issuance of the warrant for the defendant's arrest, as the text of § 53a-31 (b) and the legislative history of the 120 day limit in § 53a-32 (c) made it clear that a failure to comply with the 120 day limit, even without a finding of good cause, does not impact the interruption of a probation sentence by the issuance of an arrest warrant under § 53a-31 (b).

         Procedural History

         Information charging the defendant with violation of probation, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven and tried to the court, Vitale, J.; judgment revoking the defendant's probation, from which the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Gruendel, Alvord and West, Js., which affirmed the trial court's judgment, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          OPINION

          D'AURIA, J.

         In this certified appeal, we address whether a trial court has subject matter jurisdiction over a probation violation charge that is adjudicated after the defendant's probation sentence was originally scheduled to expire. The trial court in the present case found that the defendant, Tyrone Lawrence Kelley, had violated his probation conditions and revoked his probation, but it did so after his probation sentence was originally set to expire. The defendant claimed before the Appellate Court that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction when it decided the violation charge. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the trial court's judgment. State v. Kelley, 164 Conn.App. 232, 242, 244, 137 A.3d 822 (2016). We conclude that the defendant's probation sentence had not expired at the time the trial court decided the violation charge because, pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-31 (b), [1] the running of his sentence had been interrupted while the violation charge was pending. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

         The record reveals the following facts relevant to this appeal. The defendant was originally sentenced for a narcotics conviction to nine years of incarceration, execution suspended after four years, followed by five years of probation.[2] After he completed his period of incarceration, his probation began on September 19, 2008, and his sentence was originally scheduled to expire in September, 2013. His probation conditions included that he not violate the criminal law of any state. Thirteen months into his five year probation term, in October, 2009, the defendant was arrested and charged with a variety of drug related offenses. As a result, an arrest warrant was issued in December, 2009, and he was later arrested and charged with violating his probation conditions.

         While the violation charge remained pending, the defendant was arrested again for robbery in August, 2011.[3] The defendant's violation charge was tried at the same time as his robbery charge, in May, 2014-more than four years after his arrest for violation of probation, and about eight months after his probation sentence was originally scheduled to expire. The precise reason for the delay in trying the violation charge is unclear from the record, although it appears that, at some point, the parties agreed to try the violation charge together with the defendant's robbery charge.[4]

         After trial, the trial court found that the defendant had violated his probation conditions and concluded that further probation would serve no beneficial purpose. The trial court therefore rendered judgment revoking the defendant's probation and sentencing him to the ...


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